Sept. 19, 2013
RUSTON, La. - Many players who have worked hard on a college football team for years only to spend a predominate amount of time on the scout team portraying upcoming opposing players can get frustrated at their situations.
That is not the case for Louisiana Tech senior offensive lineman Matthew Conger, who first walked on for the Bulldogs in 2009 before earning a scholarship along the way.
Conger said that while he hopes to play in every game for the Bulldogs, he understands his scout team role and takes pride in it.
"We watch film and I always try to go out there and just watch the opposing offense," he said. "I focus on trying to do what their left guard does -- play like whoever that's going to be on a given week. It's very important. You have to give the defense a good look (at what it will be facing) or else they're going to go out there and get blindsided by something they're not used to. I try to go out and look like the opposing left guard as much as I can, so that whoever is lined up across from that player are going to get exactly in practice what they're going to see in the game.
"Some people get down and look at it in a negative way. I probably did for a while. But you get used to it. I had an ACL injury that put me back a bit. I accept my role. I have scholarship. I have to be thankful to be able to go out and do something not many people get to do. It's something a lot of people would love to do, even if it's only working with the scout team. So you go out there and give it your all and hopefully do something that will help your team win the game, because that's what really matters -- helping win a game however you get to do it."
The 6-foot-4-inch tall, 270 pound lineman actually saw time last year at Joe Aillet Stadium against Idaho, although it sure did not seem like that would happen at opening kickoff of that contest.
"I was able to get in last year for a little bit," Conger said. "That's a funny story. We were playing Idaho here at home and I wasn't even dressing for that game. I was at home, sitting on my couch watching the game. I was sitting on my couch eating a bowl of gumbo and taking an online boating course, and the strength coach called and said `Get down here, you're playing the second half.' So I actually went from being at home on the other side of Interstate 20 eating gumbo to playing in the game. So there's always a chance I could go in. The coaches have told me they're going to travel me as much as they can, and hopefully our offense will be as good as it was last year. Hopefully I'll be able to get in there again."
"It takes a special kind of person to do what he does," Moore said. "This is a kid who walked on originally and earned a scholarship from the previous staff. He shows up every day and goes to work. He's one of those guys who's going to be a very successful person because he's not looking for a starting role, he's looking to do whatever his role is to help this team, whether it's filling in a spot or holding a dummy. He's always here saying, `Yes sir and no sir.' He knows this offense and loves it. He works real hard and just loves playing the game."
The first-year offensive line coach added that Conger could see some game action again this season depending on the circumstances.
"It depends on how it goes injury-wise and travel-wise and all that stuff," Moore said. "I trust him to go in there and do what he needs to do. He knows what we need him to do. What he's so good at on the scout team is showing the young players the way they should be playing on defense."
Conger, a Prairieville native who played prep football at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, said being a part of last season's 9-3 run for the Bulldogs was inspiring, even though the team didn't play in a bowl game.
"Last year was special," Conger said. "We had an awesome O-line and even though I wasn't a starter, just to be a part of something that's No. 1 or No. 2 in the country. People know who you are. Friends back home are calling and talking about it. Cousins in Florida who never even knew I played saw us on TV, and my uncle told them `That's where your cousin plays.' They had never even heard of this team. So even though we lost 31 seniors, people know about Louisiana Tech now."
Conger admitted he didn't know much about Tech while growing up in south Louisiana.
"I didn't know much about Tech at all," the senior lineman said. "I knew they were on LSU's schedule and that was supposed to be an easy win for LSU, that's about it. Honestly, I planned on going to LSU until my senior year. And then I decided that I wanted to get away from home a little and would like to keep on playing football. So I came up here and lived the college life for a couple of weeks and then a friend called and asked if I would try to walk on with him, and I told him I'd give it a shot. I hadn't played football in a year. I had gone from 250 pounds down to 205. That first day they sent me in full pads out there against D'Anthony Smith, who ended up being a third-round draft pick by the Jaguars. He threw me around a little bit, but they liked my effort so they kept me around."
Despite being thrown around quite a bit over the years, Conger's work on the scout team has been invaluable to the Louisiana Tech football team and will continue to be applauded as the 2013 season continues.
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